30 January, 2008

Jury trials - a first hand experience

Jury trials come up occasionally, in the sense of 'should we still have juries, especially in complicated cases'.

This first hand report
from a juror who sat on a 6 week child-manslaughter case is interesting even not in a debating context.


Maybe instead of a two state solution, dual citizenship could be the solution to the Israel-Palestine problem?

World's Tab motion break down

Well, first prop is traditionally seen as hard and this analysis of results per position would see to support that theory.

Interesting that every single one of the motions was op heavy. A lot of them felt a bit biased. I'd be interested to see this analysis over other large tournaments.

It does illustrate, once again, how shockingly awful the Putin round was. I believe the octo-final motion suffered similar problems.


28 January, 2008

Warwick IV

Well, I was in little motion heaven this weekend :-)

Round 1: THW allow the teaching of intelligent design in the USA in science classrooms
Round 2: THW allow women to join the front line
Round 3: THW force all people receiving benefits to do work in the community
Round 4: (Analysis) THBT a Pakistan under Musharref is better that under a weak democracy
Rounds 5: THW use brain dead people for medical experiments rather than healthy volunteers

Semi: THW introduce a verdict of Not Proven in rape cases

Final: (wording may be wrong) THW create a duty for companies to protect children from intimidatory, racist or sexual behaviour in online virtual worlds

The only bad thing about the semi was that I couldn't remember what I'd actually written in the blog post on the same topic a while ago...

Round 1 suffered from an unfortunate lack of robot stories. Shame!

Finalists were:
1p, Birmingham
1o, KCL
2p, Middle Temple
2o, Bristol

JLM was best speaker on the tab. The final was won by Middle Temple and I was best speaker :)

Tab to follow.

23 January, 2008

Incarceration rates of men/teen births

Here is a fascinating paper on the link between the incarceration of young men and lower rates of teenage pregnancy.

I found it on the freakonomics blog where it was referenced in the context of the the question 'what do the lower abortion rates in America mean for the crime rate in the future?'. I'm most inclined to agree with the blog insofar as it argues easy access to contraceptives helps lower the abortion rate. The stigma associated with methods such as the pill and the wider uptake of condom use etc means to my mind, it seems obvious why there would be less conceptions (and therefore abortions). The figure is no doubt slightly different in America, but in Britain 25% of 16-17 year olds use the pill.

21 January, 2008

Sharia Courts in the UK

Here is a useful article for background if setting up religious courts in the UK is a motion.

The Beth Din is the Jewish court system which already operates in the UK. If both parties consent to using it, personal matters (family, commercial etc) can be tried under Jewish law. The decision of the Beth Din will then be upheld in the usual courts if one party tries to breach the decision handed down by the court.

Worth bearing in mind that there are three main branches of Islam: Sunni, Shia and Sufi. 70% of British Muslims are Sufi and Sufi-ism is a branch of Islam which emphasises the spiritual side of Islam over the more practical aspects. The comment on page 3 of the article from the head of the British Sufi Council is therefore hardly surprising.

Perhaps the best argument for implementation is that it regulates what is already happening.

The best argument against is that (eg) women will be forced by social pressure to accept an outcome which is less fair than if they had gone through the usual court system.

"That it will reduce crime" is not a good reason. See Geeklawyer's commentary.

The next plane to arrive will be...

No, nothing to do with debating, but amusing enough to share, nevertheless: here

18 January, 2008

Aging populations

Another article, similar to the previous 'Aging Populations' post is here. It takes a fairly positive view on the issue, however.

Is there a reason there seems to be a sudden growth of 'aging populations' articles? Or is it just simple plagerism?


17 January, 2008

The Kindness of Strangers

Shockingly, I'd never read Kate Adie's The Kindness of Strangers before. I really wish I had and that this was a re-read. It's interesting, provides great background material and I was in fits of giggles through a lot of the early book (someone grouched a bit when I woke him up in the morning by reading it and laughing too loudly).

Highly recommended, and currently cheap at Amazon and WH Smiths. Charity shops often have a copy, too.


Aging Populations

In a quasi-link to the previous post (in the sense that the reason was normally give to pay women to have children is the aging of society), here is a piece which looks at the effects of an aged population beyond the financial accounts.

Most useful stat? 50 years ago 42 workers supported every retiree. Now it's 3. By 2050 it'll be 2. Half your income will be used to support an old person.



16 January, 2008

Does paying women to have babies work?

Motions about paying women to have children are fairly common.

I haven't read this article in full yet but it looks quite useful nevertheless.

Do let me know,


11 January, 2008

Example Debating CV

As promised, an example of a debating CV. I haven't listed all the IV's which I've gone to, mainly because I've forgotten which they were (possibly due to excess alcohol consumption). If you started debating relatively recently (like, in the last two years or so) then I would advise you to list the all IVs you have attended (and can remember). The same applies for judging.

If you remember doing especially well at an IV, but can't remember how well, e-mail me as I probably have the tab on my computer somewhere if it was in the last 2-3 years. Good God, I'm sad.

Debating CV

Debating Experience

Manchester Intra-varsity: Winning team


Tilbury House: Best Speaker on the tab, Best Speaker in the final, winning team in final.

Koc IV: Quarter-finalist


Cambridge IV: 14th Speaker on the Tab

Birmingham IV: Quarter-finalist

Vancouver Worlds: Octo-finalist

Kingsmill-Invitational (Trinity): Semi-Finalist

Trinity IV: Quarter finalist

Bristol Open: Finalist


Bristol IV*: Finalist

Cambridge*: 24th Speaker on the Tab

Birmingham IV*: Finalist

Worlds (Thailand)*: Attended

Warwick IV *: Winning team, best speaker in the final. Third best speaker on the tab.

*Represented Middle Temple

In addition, I have been to many other IVs.

Judging Experience


Finals Judge

Tilbury House
Finals judge
President's Cup
Finals judge

Lancaster IV

Finals judge



Interim treasurer




Training director

Over the last 5 years, when not directly involved with the committee, I have nevertheless helped out by judging on Thursdays, putting up posters, being involved with the IVs, running training on an ad hoc basis or as a joint venture, writing to potential sponsors and attending our sponsor’s events.



  1. Euros will be in Tallinn, 22nd-28th June.
  2. The institution cap is 3 teams and n-1 is in force.
  3. I would like to reg 3 teams from the MDU.
  4. Flights cost about £100-£150.
  5. Registration is €210, about £150. This includes accommodation, food, alcohol, socials and transfers.
  6. I would like to be able to offer some funding, but I cannot guarantee that I will be able to.
  7. If you would like to be considered for selection, please do it on the basis that funding will not be available with the possibility of a nice surprise, rather than on the basis that funding will be available with the possibility of disappointment.
  8. If more people apply than there are spaces available, I will run trials.
  9. Selection will be based on performance at those trials as well as commitment to the society in general.
  10. More information is available on the Tallinn Euros website: http://www.eudc2008.eu/index.php?content=8
  11. If you are interested in applying for Euros, please let me know by 7th February, 2008.
    1. The process for informing me that you are interested will be posted on Facebook in just a couple of days.
    2. It will basically involve you committing to Euros should you be selected, confirming that you know the potential ‘worst case’ funding scenario.
    3. You will be asked to submit a debating CV if you wish to be considered for selection as a competitor
    4. You will be asked to submit a debating AND judging CV if you wish to be considered for selection as a adjudicator
    5. An example CV will be posted on my blog in a couple of days

06 January, 2008

World's Tab

A preliminary tab for Worlds can be found here. I have no idea what makes it preliminary rather than final. On the eighth day, God created tab geeks for that very purpose....

My, didn't we get shafted badly! Three actively bad decisions, 2 bad luck decisions and 1 fairly deserved 4th in 9 rounds. Oh well, thankfully Cork should have a distinct lack of crazy Aussie judges.

I find it interesting that although only 7 IONA teams broke, 3 reached the semis and 2 the final. Is it me or does that type of proportion suggest poor judging of teams in the in rounds?

If you look at the ESL out-rounds, it's nice to see Amsterdam and Tilbury House chase each other up the rankings. Nothing like a decent tag team effort :) Well done to Amsterdam for winning and to TH for reaching the final.

Hotel of Death theories

Sorry about rubbish lack of updates!

Could get internet to work on this computer at Assumption and then we moved to the soviet hotel of death.

One of the largest groups of tourists who visit North Korea are the Chinese. One of the most common reasons they want to visit is because they want to re-visit the 'good old days' or Mao-ist communism. The hotel in Pattaya (slogan: Nothing to compare) was filled with Russians. The architecture was soviet in the extreme and you waited hours for horribly overpriced yet inedible food. I suspect Russians are visiting it for the same reason as the Chinese visit NK.